This is just another proof of Atwood’s talent to plumb the human psyche and her masterful skill at writing a story.
Given a true crime story from a century ago, Ms. Atwood extensively researches and then creatively conjures up what might have happened. A young girl is caught with a man in an American hotel and they are both dragged back to Canada try for the murder of their employers. Did she do it? Was she the mastermind or a pawn?
Her attorney manages to commute her sentence to life in prison, narrowly escaping being hung like her ‘boyfriend’. Thirty some years later and she is released and disappears into a marriage south: one more escape into the US and this one succeeds. Her trail ends, no more records of her life exist.
This story imagines a psychiatrist visitation while still in prison. Hired by sympathetic folk to her innocence, the doctor hopes to investigate her amnesia for the guilt of the crime – she just can’t remember. Atwood does a great job slyly suggesting a split personality but never really giving her opinions of Grace nor her motivations.
“And then she began to cry, and when I asked her why she was doing that, she said it was because I was to have a happy ending, And it was just like a book; and I wondered what books she had been reading.” -p.446
Thoroughly enjoyable piece of historical fiction.
Five slices of pie.
With Up the Down Staircase: ”SAUVE QUI PEUT”! p.376
With The Good House: fortune telling